Former Priest Guilty of Molesting Boy, 12

Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)
June 9, 2007

A 74-year-old former priest pleaded guilty yesterday to sexual assault and child endangerment for molesting a boy during a sleepover at his house.

Eugene Corbesero, of Franklin Township in Somerset County, spent most of the morning pondering the deal, but ultimately accepted the terms when he appeared before Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong.

Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Murphy presented a deal of up to five years on each count, but they would run concurrently. Corbesero would have to serve 85 percent of that time before he is eligible for parole. He was still charged as a second-degree offender.

Corbesero, who is a widower, bowed slightly and spoke softly as he affirmatively answered a series of questions from the judge and the attorneys to make sure he understood the terms. The case dates from Aug. 16, when Corbesero had a number of guests in his home, according to authorities. Corbesero molested the 12-year-old child while the boy was at his house, according to law enforcement officials.

Defense attorney Mitchell Ignatoff said he always wanted a plea deal for his client, but wanted fewer years, due to Corbesero's age.

While Ignatoff said he did not want to denigrate the pain the victim and the victim's family have suffered, "I'm not sure justice is served having him do an 85-percent term at his age." The judge can change the number of years, Ignatoff said, adding that he plans to seek fewer.

"In this situation, I wish the judge had, as a matter of law, some greater discretion," Ignatoff said.


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